30 May 2014

Be True to Your Calling says Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 16

Be true to yourself. Be not someone else. The nature works that way and so we should follow.
Lao Zi observed that all things did not change from their origins. No matter how they grow, they always go back to their roots. He called upon us to be faithful to our uniqueness and try not to be someone else. Violating our calling is just inviting troubles. Yet if we stay true to our calling, our legacy will live on though we may be no more.

Here is the mind-map for Dao De Jing Chapter 16 with translations and interpretations.

Again, Lao Zi's teaching reminds me of the corresponding teaching in the Bible, namely, Eph 2:10.
See also You are a Masterpiece Created in Christ Jesus.

Lim Liat (c) 30 May 2014

29 May 2014

The 9 Attributes of The Way of Dao - DaoDeJing 15

Lao Zi tried his best to describe the Way of Dao to us. He gave nine attributes of Dao. Surprising, it is very similar to the Bible 9 attributes of the fruit of the Spirit. His last one resonates with Steve Jobs' stay hungry and stay foolish.
This Chapter 15 begins by resonating with Chapter 1 that the Way(Dao) is beyond man's ability to grasp fully but nevertheless, Lao Zi try to give a best description of what Dao is. He give nine attributes of Dao ending with the last one of humility, never to think that one know all but continue to renew oneself. This reminds me of Steve Jobs' famous speech of "Stay hungry, stay foolish". The nine attributes of Dao also reminds me of the 9 attributes of the fruit of the Spirit as given in Galatians 5:22-23. The matching is really quite close. Check it out for yourself.  

Dao De Jing 15 Text, Translation and Interpretation:

Lim Liat (c) 29 May 2014

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For more Chinese Wisdom, see Ancient Chinese Wisdom

28 May 2014

The Way(Dao) is the Invisible Power Keeping the Creation in Order says Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 14

Understand The-Way(Dao) and you can master life. However, Dao is not physical to allow you to sense it and measure it. There is nothing to compare it with. Yet it is the Power that keep all things working in proper order. You can also know the Way of Dao through discovering such orders and then you can apply it to master this life.
Dao De Jing 14 Text, Translation and Interpretation:

Here is the mind-map:
DaoDeJing 14 Unmeasurable Greatness Of Dao
We usually use our senses to try to understand this world. That is the scientific method. It is but the basic step. But it is insufficient. Because by that sense method, what we cannot sense does not exist and there are many things exists beyond our senses.

Lao Zi tells us there is Power and Order beyond our senses and even beyond our language and mind. We can only understand in parts. Nevertheless, even with the little understanding of the working of the Way of Dao, we can master this present life. We can know what is right and wrong and how to manage this world better.

Lao Zi wrote 81 short chapters to describe the working of the Way(Dao). There is a book that precedes Lao Zi’s Dao De Jing that described working of the Way more systematically. It is the Book of I-Ching.
To know more, please see Manage Change with I-Ching, or Ancient Chinese Wisdom.
Lim Liat (c) 28 May 2014

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The 9 Attributes of The Way of Dao - DaoDeJing 15
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26 May 2014

Greatness is Not About Emptying but Extending says Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 13

Lao Zi tells us that man concerns greatly about glory or disgrace because of the existence of his 'self' alone. To rid the worry, then the self must be changed. Most people will think that Lao Zi means 'emptying' the self of one's ego or pride. However, Lao Zi actually means the self needs to be extended from self alone to include everyone in the world! This resonates with Jesus saying of loving your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31).
Dao De Jing Chapter 13 text and translation:
  1. 宠辱若惊, Adoration and contempt are things that shock people
  2. 贵大患若身。The main concern is the disaster falling on one's body.
  3. 何谓宠辱若惊? Why have adoration and contempt such shocking effects?
  4. 宠为上、辱为下, Adoration from others lifts up one's pride and comptempt lowers one's pride.
  5. 得之若惊,失之若惊,Gaining or loosing them creates shocks.
  6. 是谓宠辱若惊。This is why adoration and contempt are shocking.
  7. 何谓贵大患若身? Why is disaster falling on oneself the main concern?
  8. 吾所以有大患者,为吾有身。The reason is because oneself has only one own body.
  9. 及吾无身,吾有何患?If oneself has not one's body only, then how could one be worry?
  10. 故贵以身为天下,若可寄天下;Hence, if one can treasure the world as oneself, then the world can be entrusted to him.
  11. 爱以身为天下,若可托天下。If one can love the world as oneself, then he can be entrusted with the world.
The Twist - The World and I are One.
Verses 1 to 8 talks of the great impact and concern of glory/fame and disgrace/insults on people.
Verse 9 proposed the simple answer - the problem is the existence of one's body.
The twist is in verse 10-11. The proposed solution of removal of a single one's body is not about emptying of one's ego, esteem or pride as most people or some religions would suggest, but rather, extending the lone body of self to include everyone under heaven! Such a person can be entrusted to run the nations. The government can be upon him.

The teaching of Lao Zi's is not about selflessness to emptiness but rather about broad heartedness and mindedness to include all into oneself. Lao Zi speaks much on the love of the Way of Dao.

If we go back to the last verse of DaoDeJing Chapter 7, we find ..,
  • 非以其无私耶!故能成其私。
    Is it not because he has no selfish interests ? And therefore able to achieve self-actualization.
So, self-actualization, the self is still there and is the objective, is about loosing it to gain it back! Jesus said in Mark 8:36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

Including everyone into us is too great a concept to grasp. We may fall into the trap best said by the famous Peanuts Cartoon Character Linus: "I love mankind! It's people I can't stand! "

Jesus makes it simpler for all us in "to love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12:31).

Now that the Big-Self exists, the issue of Honor/Glory/Fame and Dishonor/Shame/Disgrace are concern of everyone and not just a small-self of me alone. Honor and Dishonor are matter of right and wrong, good and evil. We can see that in Mencius' teaching of 4 virtues with knowing shame as the attribute of righteousness.

孟子 “四端”: Mencius Four Unending Virtues

  1. 恻隐之心,仁之端也;compassionate heart is the beginning and ending of love.
  2. 羞恶之心,义之端也;feeling shame and evil is the beginning and ending of righteousness.
  3. 辞让之心,礼之端也;giving way to others is the beginning and ending of good manners/conduct.
  4. 是非之心,智之端也。knowing right and and wrong is the beginning and ending of wisdom.


23 May 2014

Choose Wisely - Feed the Needs and Not the Greed says Lao Zi in DaoDeJing12

It is so easy for us to do the good things, the pleasing, the pleasurable and the wealth, rather than the right things. Lao Zi listed five good to have things and the bad consequences. He advised us to feed the basic needs and not the unlimited greed. Compare the list with the Seven Deadly Sins and the 3 things of John.
Dao De Jing Chapter 12 gives us a list of five pleasurable things to have. But they have bad consequences. We need to choose wisely to go for the basic needs rather than the greed. The mind map gives the details:

For comparison, I list down the Seven Deadly Sins and quote from 1 John 2:16. 

Just to be sure you don't misunderstand, it is OK for us to enjoy the beautiful things, good music, tasty foods, feeling of thrills and excitement, to earn good money and have a good career, but we have to be careful not to go overboard and neglect the basic needs of living which include doing the right things, building good relationships and other things of the Way (Dao) that Lao Zi talked about in other parts of Dao De Jing.  We are created with the senses that we may know how to perceive and enjoy the right things.

Lim Liat (c) 23 May 2014

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Greatness is Not About Emptying but Extending says Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 13
More:Ancient Chinese Wisdom


22 May 2014

The Power of Void - Emptiness is Useful said Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 11

We spend most of our time inventing things. But we fail to realise that most of the inventions is to create empty space to contain things. It is the void created that makes the invention useful. Lao Zi discovered the power of the void 2500 years ago and gave us 3 uses of void! Namely, to reduce weight without reducing strength, to hold things and to allow free flow. However, void by itself is useless. It is always complementary structure and void together that make the whole useful and pleasing.

Below is the mind-map for Dao De Jing Chapter 11 and its teaching.
More details on the Systematic Innovation Method BVITS mentioned can be found at BVITS Overview.

Void in the Mind and Heart:
Void needs not be just physical. Consider void in time. You make need to take rest from your work. You may need to give your mind a rest. Consider void in our ambition. You may need to stop or take a step backward. The shortest path may not be the right path. You may need to enlarge your heart and mind so as to contain more diversity. Some of us may need to empty our ego or pride a little bit more. We make need to be less self-centred ... emptying of self.

One More thing ... How can we Apply what we learn?
For the issue that you may be thinking, consider creating void or space. It may be the answer you are looking for. You may want to take away some thing, create the walls to contain something, considering what is the something you want to put in, or just make openings to allow free flow or for entrance and exit. Please share we us if you find the answer you need.

21 May 2014

What is the Greatest Virtue? How does it look? Lao Zi tells us in DaoDeJing 10

What is the greatest virtue? How does it look like? Lao Zi uses a 'Good Parent' to describe it. There are four stages of giving birth, caring, teaching and letting go. He further uses 6 attributes to show how one with the great virtue behave. They are self-control, baby likeness, transparent purity, non-violation, motherliness and open mindedness. The details are covered in the mind-map below:
Lao Zi describes the great virtue of Dao in Dao De Jing Chapter 10. As usual, if we just read the text, we may still not get the deeper understanding of his teaching and miss the good lessons contained. Below is the mind-map that translates and interprets the meaning for you:


Hope you can spend the time to read the mind-map and gain the benefits.

Lim Liat (c) 21 May 2014

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The Power of Void - Emptiness is Useful said Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 11
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20 May 2014

Stress Comes from Resisting the Way of Dao (DaoDeJing 9)

Stress and troubles come from going against the natural Way (Dao) of creation. All things, including human beings are created for a purpose and with special operating instructions. Going against the operating instructions will create stress and leads to malfunction. If you want a happy and long life, you need to follow the Way. Here in Dao De Jing, Lao Zi gives us 5 lessons on saving our energy and enjoy the good life that we are created for.
Dao De Jing Chapter 9 is captured in the Mind-map below together with the lessons that we can learn from it:
Challenges that we can manage and cope with do not produce stress for us but rather build us up. Those needful challenges are not stress but rather exercises that keep us healthy. Challenges that overwhelm us where we don't know what to do, what to expect, and cause us to worry and depressed are the real bad stress that cause us sickness and even death.

We can use the above map and lessons as a checklist to examine our lives. For those areas that we are stressed about we need to dig futher to understand where and how we have violate the natural order or natural laws. If we are so busy working and working, neglecting our family and health, we need to take a break and find the real reasons behind our workaholics problem. What are behind the forces that cause us not to lead a balanced and accoutable life. What are our concerns, fears, and even greed for glory and money. Are we too proud to learn from others? Are we abusing or misuing others for our selfish gains? What do we really want in life? What does success mean to us? What should I be doing in this phase of my life? Have I overstayed my usefulness?

Remeber Lao Zi shows us that the Way is about sharing and serving quietly without fighting for credits or gains. Such teaching may seem to go against our common wisdom but we may need to question our common wisdom. Have a rethink to see how we can follow the Way.

See also: The Secret of Joy in Changes – I-Ching Hexagram 17隨 Following

Lim Liat (c) 20 May 2014

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What is the Greatest Virtue? How does it look? Lao Zi tells us in DaoDeJing 10
More:Ancient Chinese Wisdom

17 May 2014

Seven Attributes for Greatness without Fault by Lao Zi (DaoDeJing 8)

These seven attributes are not only the ones that help you become great but also about staying great. It is greatness without any fault. The seven are position of humility, a big heart, relating with kindness, communication with integrity, management with order, working with your abilities and acting on the right time. 
Here is the mind-map containing the original, my translations and extensions for becoming and staying great.

Hope you like it.

Lim Liat (c) 17 May 2014

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Stress Comes from Resisting the Way of Dao (DaoDeJing 9)
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14 May 2014

The Way to Everlastingness is Selflessness - Lao Zi (7)

Contrary to common thinking that one must fight for oneself in order to survive in this world, Lao Zi tells us that it is about forgetting oneself that leads to longevity and legacies. This is from Dao De Jing Chapter 7. Give and share out and all will get more!
By giving and sharing what we have, we end up getting more. That is the law of nature. The nature ecosystem is about living things contributing to the livelihoods of one another up and down the food-chains. Plants offer their pollen for Bees to produce honey and ends up getting cross pollination to produce fruit for other living things and the seeds to reproduce themselves in more locations. This wonderful work of amplification and multiplication is started by some one forgetting one's interest and contributing to others. Consider Gandhi for India, Mother Teresa and such people. Their dreams and impacts continue on even after their deaths.

Here is the original Chinese text:
  1. 天长地久,
  2. 天地所以长且久者,
  3. 以其不自生,故能长生。
  4. 是以圣人后其身而身先,外其身而身存。
  5. 非以其无私耶!故能成其私。
My translation:
  1. Heaven and earth are everlasting.
  2. The reasons for their everlastingness are as follows:
  3. Because they don't just self-maintain their lives and hence they are able to live long.
    (Giving to others trigger giving from others and thereby create greater abundance throughout for all to share).
  4. Likewise, Sage put their interests last and can go out first (to serve). Put himself on the outside (not as central) and ends up sustaining the self.
  5. Is it not because he has no selfish interests ? And therefore able to achieve self-actualization. 
It is not what you can get but how much value that you can give that gives you the success and satisfaction.
Consider this post losing-yourself-in-pursuit-of-life by David Brooks where he said life is not about finding yourself but loosing yourself. It resonates with Lao Zi's teaching here.


12 May 2014

The Secret of an Easy & Refreshing Life - Let Mother Nature Do the Work Lao Zi (6)

The secret of a stress free, easy going, effortless and refreshing life is so obvious that we are not even aware of it. It is following the Laws of Nature. Lao Zi tells us in Dao De Jing Chapter 6. This is also the key teaching of the Dao School of Lao Zi & Zhuang Zi.
One Word that Describe the Way/Dao
Lao Zi wrote Dao De Jing to tell us about his discovery of the Way of Dao, the way of Heaven and Earth. He emphasized repeatedly in his writing that the Way/Dao works all the time (taking no breaks and not needing them anyway), and doing them quietly, not ever complaining or claiming credits, and its energy is never exhausted. Chapter 6 is the second shortest of the 81 Chapters and summarizes the characteristics of the Way in one Word - Mother. The title for the chapter is "The Way/Dao is the Mother of Endless Love".

The Text and Translation


Original Chinese Text English Translation Comments
1 谷神不死 是谓玄牝 The spirit of the valley never dies. This is the unfathomable motherhood. The valley is where we find the richest growth of plants and animals
2 玄牝之门 是谓天地根 The door of the motherhood is the root of heaven and earth. The Way/Dao created everything and provides the environment for their growth.
3 绵绵若存 用之不勤 It quietly and continuously spreads out every where, and using it will be effortless and tiredlessly. The Laws of Nature is for life and they operates quietly. As long as we follow them, living will be naturally easy and revitalising.


The above description captures the key attributes of a Mother.

What does a mother do?
  1. Give births ... Source or Root of everything. v2.
  2. Love and Care for her children no matter how old. v1
  3. Her love is unconditional. Just go to her whenever and whatever your needs may be v3.
  4. Her love is never ending or exhausted. v3
  5. Her love surrounds always.v3
The Principle for a Stress Free Living - Let Nature do the Work
The main teaching of Lao Zi for a stress free, joyful, refreshing living is simple ... follow nature and let nature do the work for you. 

Develop Your Natural Abilities and Choose a Career where your abilities are the Strengths
For your character and capability development, the principle is simple, focus of the discovery and development of your natural abilities and choos work that fit with your natural abilities. Those things that you do well easily and enjoy doing them are your natural abilities. Wheneve you use your natural abilities, the more you use them, the more vitalized you become.  What about your 'weaknesses'? Outsource them to others with those strengths. It take a team of members with complementary strengths to become a championship team.

Application to Science - the Clean Energy Sources
Let the gravity to the work. A great invention is this GravityLight | doing more with less
Let the waterfalls do the work.
Let the wind do the work.
Let the Sun light do the work.
Any time we break the law of nature and work against it, we will end up using a lot of energy and creating a lot of harmful by products called pollutants that we need to handle them with use of more energy.

Your Own Health
For a healthy life, follow the laws of nature. Work well and rest well. Don't over stress and over stretched yourself. Eat and exercise with balance. You body can tell you when you violate the law of nature for too long.

Remember Mother Nature on Mothers‘ Day - Mother's Laws are for your Good.
The Law of nature is the Law of Liberty. Don't be fooled that the laws are limiting your freedom. Rather, the laws are healthy and long life. A life of energy and joy. Follow the laws of nature.

Lim Liat (c) 12 May 2014

09 May 2014

Who is the Greatest? The Unsung Hero and Lao Zi

Who is the greatest? Some people claim it themselves. Some were given by others like Mother Teresa. But according to Lao Zi, the true greatest is the someone you don't know or even have taken for granted. Dao De Jing Chapter 5 describes the Way of Dao - The Way is impartial and it works silently and endlessly for the benefits of all.
Dao De Jing Chapter 5 is one of those passages that is mis-interpreted and understood.

The original Chinese text is:
  1. 天地不仁,以萬物為芻狗。
  2. 聖人不仁,以百姓為芻狗。
  3. 天地之間,其猶橐籥乎﹖
  4. 虛而不屈,動而愈出。
  5. 多言數窮,不如守中。
Below is a famous English translation from Waley. You can find it and other translations here.
  1. Heaven and Earth are ruthless; To them the Ten Thousand things are but as straw dogs.
  2. The Sage too is ruthless; To him the people are but as straw dogs.
  3. Yet Heaven and Earth and all that lies between, is like a bellows
  4. In that it is empty, but gives a supply that never fails. Work it, and more comes out.
  5. Whereas the force of words is soon spent. Far better is it to keep what is in the heart.
The Errors and Diffuclty:
  1. Literal translation without understanding of the whole passage leads to wrong meaning.
    A word can have a few meanings and the exact meaning has to depend on the context.
    Secondly, the meaning of word changes through time, and we need to get as close to the time of the writing. A modern dictionary is not a sure guide.
    In this particular case of verse 1, 不仁 is being wrongly translated as Ruthless because 仁 usually means kindness. But if we look up the older dictionary, we get the following definitions:仁,亲也。——《说文》. It is love for family or relationship.
    上下相亲谓之仁。——《礼记·经解》It is closeness between top(parent) and bottom(children).
    Both definitions speak of love because of relationships. Confucius school teaching on love is also dependent on the relationship-distant. You should love your family more than friends and love your friends more than strangers.
    So, the correct translation and meaning is not ruthless but no favoritism or be impartial.
    This meaning will fit well with the rest of the passage (and the whole book of Dao De Jing).
  2. Meaning should be in context and mutually support each other to give a coherent meaning for the whole passage.
    Verse 3-5 speak of Heaven and Earth (The Way of) is vast and hallow (as if not there) but work endlessly (the more you act with it, the more it gives) and not boasting but keeping the the central righteous path.
    So, it gives support to translate verse 1 not as ruthless but as impartial.
  3. Even with the correct translation, one may still not able to grasp the deeper meaning of the verse.
    For some. the meaning of verse 3-5 may not be fully understood. What is the meaning in the use of the illustration of a 'bellows'. Bellows are used to blow wind into the furnace to increase the fire. Verse 4 tell us the Dao is like the empty air of wind. You don't see it but you can see its effect. While it is empty it does not loose its purpose. It does not give in to external pressure to do other things but stay to the very thing that it was designed for. This support verse 5 meaing keeping the central righteous way. 
My Translation:
  1. Heaven and earth (The Way or Dao) is impartial and treat all things as equal without regards to one's wealth or position but only see and meet the needs.
    (Staw doges are for the poor to offer as their sacrifices. The rich would sacrifice the real animals. Poor means lack of resources to meet the needs.). 
  2. The sages/saints are likewise. They are impartial and seek to meet the needs of people regardless of their status.
  3. Between heaven and earth, the space works like a bellows.
  4. It appears as empty and it has power to accomplish its purpose. (It does not give in to other pressure to lpse its designed purpose).
    The more you act on and follows its purpose and way, the more it gives.
    (recall Chapter 3v9 9 为无为,则无不治。disrupt not the natural order and every thing will be well managed. See The Problems and Answers for Men According to Lao Zi
  5. Boasting (talking too much) will soon reveals one poverty (lack of ability or resources or action).
    It is better to keep within the heart and be sincere and righteous in action.
    (Let our righteous actions do the talking instead!)
The Take Away:

What does Lao Zi teach us about being greatest?
It is not about self proclaimed greatness nor wanting people to praise to you. 
It is not about doing something to gain reputation or money for self.
It is about meeting the needs of the situations or people, quietly doing them and doing them tirelessly.

This concept is repeated in Chapter 9 ... 功成身退,天之道
Leave after the mission is accomplished is the Way of Heaven
.

and reflected well in Levels of Leadership - Can We Measure Leadership?

So we must not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up.
---
Galations 6:9 of the Bible



By following this post,  I hope you have also pick up the skill of reading and understanding a passage correctly.

Compare this with Confucius‘s How Great are You? Let Confucius Tell you.

Lim Liat (c) 9 May 2014

08 May 2014

How Great are You? Let Confucius Tell you.

Confucius shows us 3 levels of greatness. It begins with sharing of one's wealth and things. Next is the right use of one's authority - not for self-glorification and not to bully others. The highest is the love and care for people of all ages. So, how far have you attained ?

The Analect《論語•公冶長篇》has the following passage:
顏淵、季路侍。子曰:“盍各言爾志?”
子路曰:“愿車馬衣輕裘與朋友共,敝之而無憾。”
顏淵曰:“愿無伐善,無施勞。” 子路曰:“愿聞子之志。”
子曰:“老者安之,朋友信之,少者懷之。”

Yan Yuan and Ji Lu are with Confucius.
Confucius asked,"Let's hear your ambition."
Ji Lu said,"I wish to have chariots, horses, light fur clothes and share them with friends. Even if they are worn out, I will have no regrets".
Yan Yuan said,"I wish that I boast not of my goodness and labor not others".
Zi Lu asked,"May we hear our teacher's ambition?"
Confucius said,"May the old people have peace without worry of their living. May there be integrity and trust among friends. May the young be care for and loved."

The 3 Levels of Greatness

1. Sharing of Material Wealth/Goods.
2. Right Use of Power. No self-glorifying and abuse of others.
3. Love for the People of All ages. Care for the aged, trust for friends and upbringing of the young.

The above three levels are all about others - sharing of things, right use of authority, and care for people of all ages. So, we can introduce a level 0 which stands of self-centeredness and no concern about others. Most people will agree that starting from level 0 is very natural. When we are young and least capable, we must be very concern about our own survival. As we grow older with greater ability and security, we may then begin think of others and giving to them. The sad part is that quite a number of people never grow out of their insecurity to care for others. When they care for others, their inner motivation is still about what they can get from serving them.

Parents have an important role to play in giving and providing a secure environment for their children. Children growing up in a secured and loved environment can by pass level 0 or grow up from level 0 quickly into level 1 and higher as they see and are the beneficiaries of the love of their parents. This security of love also applies to marriage relationship for a lasting and joyful marriage.

Which level of sharing are you? ... 1 Things, 2 Power and 3 Love ?

Lim Liat (c) 8 May 2014

05 May 2014

The Way is the Son said Lao Zi (DaoDeJing 4)

This is part 4 of a series of my postings on Lao Zi's Dao De Jing (The Bible of Moral). Chapter 4 introduces the concept of Son as the Way (Dao) and explains his working. He does it in the reverse order - describes the work first and then reveals to us the answer like a detective novel. It does create a greater impact.
Lao Zi's Dao De Jing (The Bible of Moral) attempts to explain and describe the great Way (Dao) to us that we may follow it for us to achieve peace and abundant life together. In Chapter 4, he strangely uses the word 子 Son to describe the Way and even says that he is before our ancestors! Here are the details.
(Please be forewarned that the author is a Christ believer.)

Original Chinese Text English Translation Remarks
1 道 冲而用之,或不盈。  The Way is so vast and wide such that in there is no limits in its use; no matter how you fill it, it will not be full. The Way provides all energy and maintains the natural order endlessly.
2 渊兮似万物之宗;  It is so deep to be the root of all creation/things. It is the source or the original Force
3 挫其锐、解其纷、和其光、 Blunt its sharpness, resolve the tangles,  follow its light, It is so powerful and yet not harmful to give and support lives
4 同其尘,湛兮似或存。  agree with its traces,  it is so transparent/clear as if not there(it is invisible). It works invisibly and claims no credit.
5 吾不知谁之子,象帝之先。 I don't know whose son is it. Look like it is before the ancestors. The Son is before the creation of man.

It begins with The Way (Dao) is ...
It describes the Way as vast and wide and provides for every usage without any limit.
It says the Way is the root of all creations.
It describes its sharpness, intricacies, light, traces/paths of it work, ... yet so quietly and almost invisible. (It is not so invisible that we cannot tell its work. We can find its traces if we bother to look carefully).
It ends strangely with "I don't know whose Son is it? Like before our ancestors". 

Lao Zi could have just ends it with, just like any ancient Chinese classics, as the Heaven 天. The Way is Heaven. Or The Way is God or the Creator. 天 refers to God or Creator for the ancient Chinese. 
Or, The Way is the order created by the Creator.
There is no need to say 'whose son?'. 
Using the word Son means that there is a Father to give rise to the Son. 
So one way to interpret this is to say the Father/God of Creation creates the Way (the Son) and through it does all the creating and maintaining the living order by his power.
But then, he says "I don't know whose Son?". He could have said God's son or Heaven's Son. 
Saying "I don't know" implies there could be may Gods - but ancient Chinese believe only in one God of Heaven (later Chinese generations deify the deceased).
So, if there be only one God and Laozi did not know 'whose Son', it means that the Father and Son relationship is not the common one of giving birth. This is then related to the Christian concept of Trinity God with the co-existence of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I can see many verses in the Bible telling us similar things. 
As example: This John 1v1-4 has many parallels to 
Joh 1:1-4 , In the beginning, was the Word(Dao 道), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  2  The same was in the beginning with God.  3  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  4  In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

1Jn 5:7  For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word(Son), and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 



1Jn 1:1  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life

Very strange indeed that Lao Zi has written chapter 4 that are similar to John chapter 1. 

But it may be due to my bias of wanting to see what I want to see.

What do you think?


02 May 2014

The Problems and Answers for Men According to Lao Zi

Lao Zi tells us how come we have so much problems from our seemingly good actions to get people to do more. He also provide us the answers for fixing this hypocritical world.
In Lao Zi's Dao De Jing 道德经 (The Book of Moral) chapter 3, Lao Zi points out the three temptations of men, namely, glory, greed (for wealth), and girls/guys (hedonism) and proposes the answers. The key answer is the famous 无为而治 self-management without interference (i.e. actions that violate the natural laws). Evil comes from using our own smartness to tempt the people and to manipulate them to do the seemingly good things!

Every thing, task or man, has purpose and meaning and does not need external temptations or motivations to disturb it. Doing so is the root cause of all the problems. For example, the meaning of work is good enough to motivate the people to do them well. To give extra high salary and incentives distort the meaningfulness of work and leads to bad and evil practices like sabotaging others and cheating the incentive systems to get more. Giving is good by itself but many give not for the love for it but for the glory and fame that comes with it. The world becomes artificial and hypocritical. Below is the Chinese text and my English translations for Chapter 3.

Dao De Jing 03 Management with Abiding Actions 无为而治
1 不尚贤,使民不争;                Give no glory and men fight not
2 不贵难得之货,使民不为盗;Have no scarcity and men steal not.
3 不见可欲,使民心不乱;        See no desirable pleasures and men hearts are not stirred.
4 是以圣人之治,                        Hence, the management of the wise is:
5 虚其心、实其腹、                    empty his ego, fill his stomach (answer for 1)
6 弱其志、强其骨。                    weakens his ambition,
                                                       strengthen his bone of uprightness (answer for 2 Greed)
7 常使民无知无欲,                   cause the people to scheme not and lack not (answer for 3 Hedonism)
8 使夫智者不敢为也。               so that the scheming ones have no place to act (no more evil)
9 为无为,则无不治。               disrupt not the natural order and every thing will be well managed.

Misunderstanding on No Action 无为
Contrary to popular understanding that Lao Zi teaches passive no-action, Lao Zi is actually have pro-active and positive. Verse 9 says 为无为 Do '无为‘. 无为 Wu Wei  is not about no action but about no violation. So some people think it is better to use the similar sounding words 无违 to cover the real meaning of Not Rebelling (against the natural order or the Way). It is not about not acting 无为, but rather 为无为, Do the non-rebellious actions by following the natural order of things.

Ecology teachers us that not the strongest survive, and not even the Darwin's the fittest survive, but rather the complementary mutually supportive living chains survive. Killing of a particular species on the ecology chains will cause the death of the long ecology chains of living things!

So, it is important to heed Lao Zi's advice to first understand the purpose and meaning of things (living or material) and then honor the purpose by actions that draw out the potential and remove other hindrances. It is very important to question of motivations and the longer term impact of our many so calld good intention actions. They may draw the oppositve behavior that we originally wanted.

For more on Lao Zi see Ancient Chinese Wisdom

Lim Liat (c) 2 May 2014

01 May 2014

Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat are Misnomers

Strength, weakness, opportunity and threat are relative terms. They are meaningful only in a particular context or situation. Furthermore, your so called strength may become a weakness in another situation. The Chinese like to say that within any crisis there is always the opportunity. It is up to you to find the opportunity. In other words, you hold the key to what is strength, weakness, opportunity or threat. 
Call it Charactertics and Not Strength or Weakness
A better way to help you is to think in terms of your characteristics, your personality traits, such as DISC or MBTI etc depending on the school you subscribed to, rather than of strengths and weaknesses. Whether your particular characteristic is a strength or a weakness is dependent on the situation.

The Secret for Success
So if you want to succceed in life, you choose to work in only those situation where your traits become strengths.

Outsource Your Weakness when Situation Change
However, many things in life are beyond your control. The situation is likely to change such that your previous strength becomes a weakness. What can you do? Then you outsource your weakness to someone with that strength. You get someone, by hiring or partnering with, someone with the strength to complement your weakness.
Or you can leave the job and find a new one where your a particular trait is strength again.
Of course, we can also try to learn and develop. However, we need to spend enough effort to make up our 'weakness' to accepatble level and spend more effort to develop our particular traits.

Summary - Know Self, Know Others and Partnering with Complementary Traits
Choose the situation where our traits become strengths and develop our strengths while at the same time outsource our weaknesses to others with the complementary strengths. It is about choosing, developing and partnering for success in life.

Before you think that your choice is limited, it is important to note that studies on the matching of job types and personality traits have not significant correlerations. i.e. Successful sales executives are not just those people with Influence (I of DISC) personality trait. Even the intervert Compliance (C of DISC) type can be successful Sales Executive if he know how to partner with complementary traits. The secret for success is then about knowing yourself knowing others and forming partnership and working with others of complementary traits.

Lim Liat (c) 1 May 2014